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Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Silk of the Seas and the Arctic Flowers

Beckett fact no. 75.

Ten French poets in Beckett.

1) ‘The silk of the seas and the arctic flowers /that do no exist’ in ‘Sanies I’ comes courtesy of Rimbaud’s Barbare. Beckett thought very highly of Rimbaud, ‘the Infernal One, the Ailing Seer’, and translated Le Bateau Ivre.
2) Malherbe. Enfin vint Malherbe, as French classicists were fond of saying. He is invoked in ‘Recent Irish Poetry’ to come and sit on Blanaid Salkeld’s sonnets, presumably as a deterrent.
3) Baudelaire. Of the many Baudelaire echoes in Beckett, perhaps the most resonant is Hamm’s invocation of Recueillement: ‘You cried for night; it falls; now cry in darkness.’
4) Philippe Soupault. Is in Beckett’s oeuvre in the sense of being his collaborator on the
Nouvelle Revue Française translation of Anna Livia Plurabelle.
5) Mallarmé. Beckett didn’t like him. Belacqua’s family wave him a Mallarméan farewell in Dream.
6) Lamartine. Un seul être te manqué et tout est dépeuplé, wrote Lamartine. Cue Beckett title: Le dépeupleur, otherwise The Lost Ones.
7) Racine. Ah, the Racinian preterite! ‘Vous mourûtes aux bords où vous fûtes laissée’, as Belacqua illustrates.
8) Corneille. Didn’t like him either: as travestied in the student revue Le Kid.
9) de Musset. ‘Ce n’est au Pélican’ in Dream parodies de Musset.
10) Voltaire. Not much remembered as a poet these days, but the image of him contemplating the remains of Lisbon (after the earthquake of 1755) is traceable to Voltaire’s poem Le désastre de Lisbon.

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